How SkyMall Is Trying to Avoid Sears' Fate

Catalog battles mobile devices for passengers' attention
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2014 10:03 AM CDT
How SkyMall Is Trying to Avoid Sears' Fate
Skymall needs to "evolve," says its CEO.   (Shutterstock)

SkyMall isn't exactly flying high these days. Between May and September of last year, the iconic in-flight catalog lost $3.2 million, and the Los Angeles Times has one explanation: While the catalog still reaches 600 million flyers yearly thanks to the seat-back pocket, that audience is no longer "captive," the paper notes. While passengers once had little else to turn to for entertainment, travelers can increasingly use their devices in-flight—and analysts say the company needs to step up its game if it wants to avoid the fate of the Sears catalog. SkyMall's CEO, Kevin Weiss, agrees: "Like everything else, we have to evolve," he says.

The company is getting a $2.5 million technological facelift, the Times reports. It will improve its website and offer catalogs with items that readers can purchase by scanning them with their phones. Another issue, says a retail consultant, is a need to vary its product selection. "How many elevated pet food bowls do I need?" he asks. But SkyMall doesn't plan to stop selling what it likes to call "the coolest stuff on the planet." Future items could include a toddler-friendly "shoulder saddle" for parents or beach pillows that hide beer. "We want people to look through the catalog and say, 'Oh, my God, why didn't I think of that?'" says a product manager. (Read more SkyMall stories.)

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